Published on August 07, 2012

Genesis Schedules Two CarFit Education Events

In no more than a second, there was a crash, a second impact of air bags being deployed and then quiet.

One of the drivers of a head-on crash was a graduate of the Genesis CarFit program. She had put the lessons learned to use proper alignment in the seat to create the safest position for older drivers. She was the correct distance from the steering wheel, and she was positioned correctly in relationship to the air bags.

The car's air bag deployed into her chest, not into her face, at approximately 100 miles per hour. The driver's CarFit assessment may have prevented serious injury.

CarFit is a national educational program that offers older adults the opportunity to check how well their personal vehicles "fit" them. Health professionals work with older drivers and review 12 key areas to ensure they "fit" their vehicle properly for maximum safety. A CarFit check takes
approximately 20 minutes to complete.

Genesis has two CarFit events coming up:

The first will be Friday, Aug. 17 at Genesis Medical Center, Illini Campus in Silvis from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

There will be a second event on Saturday, Sept. 22 at the Center for Active Seniors (CASI) from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. in connection with the CASI Senior Fair.

Kimberly Car City is sponsoring both events.

Older drivers are often the safest drivers because they're more likely to wear their seatbelts and less likely to speed or drink and drive, statistics show. However, they are also more likely to be seriously injured in a crash because their  bodies are more fragile.

"Older drivers can improve their safety by ensuring their cars are properly
adjusted for them," said Gretchen Cluff, an Occupational Therapist at Genesis and a Certified Driving Rehabilitation Specialist. "A proper fit in their car can greatly increase not only the driver's safety but also the safety of others.

"Once seniors arrive for their check, they will asked basic information and then we will evaluate how they fit in their car. For example, are they sitting too close to the airbag? Are their mirrors adjusted appropriately to maximize their view? Is their seat in the best position to reach the brake and gas pedals?

"We can only make recommendations and can't touch or change anything for liability reasons. We can, however, provide the senior drivers with important information that could increase their driving safety."

Three examples underscore the importance of road safety to the CarFit program:

• Knowing how to properly adjust one's mirrors can greatly minimize blind spots for drivers when changing lanes.

• Good foot positioning on the gas and brake pedals is important. Drivers who reach with their toes to press on the pedals can cause fatigue in their legs and slow reaction time.

• Drivers run a risk of serious injury if they are sitting closer than 10 inches from the steering wheel.

Other CarFit events have shown that more than one-third of seniors had at least one critical safety issue. One in 10 sat too close to the steering wheel, and 20 percent did not have a line of sight at least 3 inches over the steering wheel.

Genesis offers the only hospital-based driver's evaluation program in eastern Iowa with a Certified Driving Rehabilitation Specialist.

To reserve a time for an assessment at either upcoming CarFit event, call (563) 421-1480.

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